Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sheriff strips Forest Service of power

From page A1 | June 26, 2013 | 19 Comments

El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini has been having problems with the U.S. Forest Service since he took office more than two years ago — and now is stripping it of its state law enforcement power in the county and the Eldorado National Forest.

“I have a folder an inch thick of e-mail and snail mail,” D’Agostini said, all complaints about the Forest Service. He estimates about 50 complaints total. They were all “complaints about services from the Forest Service. Or, I should say, lack thereof.”

Numerous attempts were made to fix the problems, including field training for one of the officers to try to make the officer successful at the job. “They just weren’t getting it,” D’Agostini said. Service, when it was to be had, was sub-par.

Then, last year, the Sheriff received a call from Cal Fire. It was been investigating fires on USFS land and requested law enforcement and investigator assistance. They received none, citing lack of resources. “Why did the Forest Service not have resources?” D’Agostini asked rhetorically. He was then told by the USFS to tell Cal Fire not to investigate on private land.

Instead, he told the USFS that it “can’t have their cake and eat it too. They can’t have the authority, but when needed, not do that part of the job.”

He looked at the Memorandum of Understanding between EDSO and the USFS, looked into case law and the state Attorney General’s opinions.

The Sheriff sent the USFS a letter on June 22, giving USFS officials a 30-day notice before they are stripped of their law enforcement power.

“California Penal Code Section 830.8(a) limits the authority of Forest Service criminal investigators and law enforcement officers to exercise the powers of arrest of a California peace officer and to enforce California statutes without the written consent of the Sheriff or Chief of Police in whose jurisdiction they are assigned,” D’Agostini’s letter read. “I am terminating the agreement and giving 30 days written notice as required. Effective Monday, July 22, 2013, the cooperative agreement will no longer exist.” It goes on to say that the law enforcement officials of the USFS no longer have his consent or authorization to enforce state laws in the county, nor will EDSO accept evidence submitted by them.

“They can’t enforce state law,” D’Agostini said. That includes vehicle and penal codes, on both private and federal land. They can, however, enforce federal laws.

This is “not going to have an effect at all” on response times, he said. When someone in the forest calls 911, it already goes to EDSO dispatch. If the USFS “hears the cross traffic” over the radio, officials were welcome to respond, he said. But, they rarely did.

He cited two recent examples within the past few weeks. A Fish and Game warden was lost near Immigrant Trail and EDSO responded, the Sheriff said. The Forest Service did not. When a recent marijuana grow was discovered, the teams led by EDSO invited the USFS law enforcement to join them for the raid, which resulted in an arrest. The USFS “didn’t show.”

“We’ll do our job, and do it well,” D’Agostini said. “We’ll provide the same level of attention to detail” they always have, he said. The only change to law enforcement in the National Forest will be making it a “much more pleasant place to enjoy,” he said.

Forest Service Special Agent in Charge Scott Harris told the Mountain Democrat, “We have received the letter and are in the process of reviewing it. We have a meeting scheduled with the El Dorado County sheriff on Wednesday to consider our options for resolving this issue.”

Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or Follow @CMayerMtDemo.


Discussion | 19 comments

  • cookie65June 26, 2013 - 6:20 am

    I LOVE IT. Now only 599 federal agencies to go. Some flatlander gets a degree for being able to tell the difference between mountain misery and poison oak so the federal government gives them a badge and they feed off the taxpayers for 60 years. The American people have been shamed, scammed and snookered by our own government into believing we cannot do without them. Here is a little history on how bureaucrats stole America away from Americans.

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  • cookie65June 26, 2013 - 6:32 am

    Speaking of that pot bust out by Stumpy meadows, wasn't that in undocumented democrat that obama wants to give citizenship to? And where were the environMENTAList nutjobs and the epa who are doing everything in their ill-gotten power to keep law abiding tax payers out of the forest? HUM???? Great job by the Sheriff's Dept to catch the guy. The Sheriff will probably get a letter from one of obama's henchmen accusing him of profiling.

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  • R J CarterJune 26, 2013 - 6:51 am

    Cookie....It sure is good to have ya back

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  • Nathan foltzJune 26, 2013 - 7:00 am

    thank you sheriff. Keep public lands open to the public

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  • cookie65June 26, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Thanks RJ, do you remember moochelle obama saying "someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more." I guess that explains why she gets a $100million vacation while the troops in Afghanistan get cold meals.

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  • R J CarterJune 26, 2013 - 9:18 am

    Yup Cookie,..Kinda makes one wonder what little soiree moochelle is cook'in up next at taxpayers expense....Maybe a Broadway production of "The Lion King" performed at the White House.??...Oh, did I say "The Lion King", I meant "The Lying King"..

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 26, 2013 - 9:27 am

    RJ, wasn't Chairman Mao's wife deep into theatre employing good little Red Guards to extol the virtues of the Cultural Revolution? Read, Red Azalia by Anchee Min. This is the autobiography of a "good little Red Guard" who's epiphany lead her to America. She saw the hypocrisy of Madam Mao. GOOD READ!

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  • firecaptJune 26, 2013 - 9:41 am

    If the sheriff is going to do all the enforcement then he does not need any Title 3 fund to help out. It can be useful for the Fire safe council do their job.

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  • 'Charlie"June 26, 2013 - 9:42 am

    Best news ever! The abuse of authority and harassment was out of control up there! It's a shame that the actions of 1 specific officer caused this to happen up there. I hope this doesn't create total lawlessness up there because 1 guy who would write his own mother a ticket for being 1 car length + 2 inches off the road. Now open the roads I've used all my life! EVERY time I am up there I bring home more trash that I bring up there. NOBODY loves and respects out forest more than myself, friends and family, such a shame I can't go see it any more because the roads are closed.

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  • Jim BrooksJune 26, 2013 - 12:09 pm

    Way to go Sheriff. You can bet the people are behind you! Keep at it please.

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  • PatrickJune 26, 2013 - 12:32 pm

    After reading this article I find it interesting that mutual assistance is not occurring. It is just one more example of the disconnect between state and federal authority. I strongly believe the Sheriffs office will provide a great level of service, after all they already do. And let's not forget the State Parks LEO's they are way more down to earth than USFS, at least that is my personal opinion.

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  • Nancy SwensonJune 26, 2013 - 2:29 pm

    Sheriff John, thank you kindly. Please keep writing those letters to preserve our freedoms.

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  • Fran DuChampJune 26, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    Fire safe council...are you a nonprofit? Im having a hard time with many nonprofits lately...The sheriff I voted for...Thank you Sheriff for standing up for our rights. Now back to fire---someone needs to thin the forest up here--people are having a hard time getting insurance because they live in Pollock--and if one already has a policy--rates are going up . So if the insurance companies have figured it out-...the supervisors need to hurry up on someone thinning it out. People blogging about it on Facebook will hold someone accountable if there is a fire up here--visitors have arrived. I suggest someone help out our fire services that go into the flames to protect the rest of us.

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  • .June 26, 2013 - 9:33 pm

    Thanks Johnny glad there are good people in government that care about the public. How do you feel about that ken marcus? Not so tough anymore are ya?

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  • Wheresit?June 27, 2013 - 11:18 am

    I would be lost if I were on Immigrant Trail, too. I wonder where that is? Good that ol Kooky and RJ are having a nice time with each other. Maybe you could take your love fest offline somewhere.

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  • Wheresitat?June 27, 2013 - 11:20 am

    I would be lost if I were on Immigrant Trail, too. I wonder where that is?

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  • Another PatrickJune 27, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    This truly excellent news. I may make a special trip to the mountains to see "officer" Marcus and personally congratulate him on his demotion. He is a nuisance and I'm glad his pestilential reign is finally over.

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  • Rama LJune 27, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    Wow, can we do the same thing with the TSA? Did you know future historians will record we wasted millions of dollars and countless billions of lost productivity hours for one would-be shoe bomber, and one other man who made his underwear smoke. This is the same unchecked perpetual hysteria machine that converted the Weimar Republic in Germany into the Third Reich. Our Fourth Amendment is nowhere to be found at our airports and borders, now they have us clammering to give up our Second to federal background checks. The politicizing of gun ownership in America has already begun and the law hasn't even been passed yet.

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  • robertdnollJune 28, 2013 - 5:24 am

    there are maps available for all of california,don't wear your ignorance like a crown

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